When the Ghana Handball Association (HAG) goes to the polls on Saturday, 13th August 2022, one particular exigency is bound to raise eyebrows.
Per a release of candidates, current executives, and delegates lists for the elective congress, a candidate for the position of Chairman of the HAG but now sadly deceased, Dr. Jatong Baba’s, name would be on the ballot.
Strangely, the deceased who was initially nominated as one of two representatives for the Central Region would also have his name among the list of delegates for the congress. This second action means the Central Region would be denied an opportunity to have a second representative and a second vote in the hotly contested congress.
In addition, the name of a former Vice Chairman of the HAG Nortey Dowuona, who is also deceased, also has his name among the list of current executives of the association.
Per the constitution of the HAG, a vacancy should have been declared after Nortey Dowuona’s demise according to Article 4.5.4.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission for the elections Jerry Ahmed Shaib however has defended the decision and action by his outfit.
“First of all, may their souls rest in peace,” he told www.liquidsportsghana.com before adding, “I do not know them. I was not a party to how their names were not taken out. It was a matter that came out at the electoral commission. They agreed that they have already done balloting. They can proceed and have their places blanked during balloting. I believe that that is not an issue. It is an insignificant issue. Whoever is not alive will have their positions blanked.”
Article 4.1b of the HAG constitution which deals with the composition of AGM states among other things Two (2) members from each Regional Association. Therefore, the Central Region is due two members at the congress.
When asked who replaces Dr. Baba as Central Regional Representative, Jerry said “nobody is replacing him. We discussed this issue. They intend for us to use an album. They are not changing anybody.”
This reporter pointed out to the EC chair that “this is force majeure, so surely they should be allowed to replace him?
Jerry responded, “yes, this is force majeure. Two people were nominated from the Central region unfortunately one is dead. They claim that there has not been an election again. So we should proceed to congress. How is that too much? It is the CAHB people who said this. This is the position of the elections commission. Originally it was a list of 39, if one is dead you can proceed with the rest of them. If they find it necessary to postpone the congress, go and conduct an election and return, then we can do it that way.”
This is the third time an attempt is being made to hold an elective congress of the HAG after two abortive attempts owing to disputes among different members of the association, leading to interventions from the Confederation of Handball Associations of Africa and a subsequent directive to appoint the Ghana Olympic Committee to play the role as an arbiter in the electioneering process.
The Deputy Secretary General of the GOC Mr. Jerry Ahmed Shaib has held some meetings and deliberations with the various interest groups and members of the association.
Neutrals, therefore, question why it is so difficult to remove the names of deceased people from the candidate’s list and delegate list respectively.
One school of thought holds that the Central Region is being denied an opportunity to replace its former head, Dr. Baba because the region is thought to be sympathetic to one of the candidates. Thus, the action is a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise the region.
The thorny issue of 5 executive board members and voting rights
In his petition to the GOC of 18th July 2022, 6 aspiring members of the HAG led by Paul Kofi Yesu Dadzie raised the thorny issue about the elective powers of 5 co-opted executives of the HAG at the upcoming congress.
The graver man of their contention is that the said executives were not duly elected at the HAG elective congress of 16th October 2016 and were only appointed by the President of the outgoing HAG, Ken Dzirasah whose executive was clothed with the powers to make such appointments. However, they contend that such co-opted members do not have voting rights at AGMs or elective congresses.
The petitioners quoted Article 4.2(a) of the HAG constitution to back their claim:
…the General Meeting shall elect the Chairman, the Vice Chairman, Treasurer and Six (6) other members to form an Executive Board of the Association for a period 4 years subject to re-election.
“We humbly submit that, they were not constitutionally elected and therefore do not qualify to vote at the Elective Congress hence, measures should be taken to expunge their names from the delegates list,” they stated.
Further, 2(b) of the same constitution states, that the Executive Board shall co-opt other members of which 20% shall be Women as stipulated in IOC Regulations.
It is however to be noted that none of the 5 co-opted executives is a woman. Their names are Charles W. Mensah – Chief Referee, George Bankole Technical Director, William Freeman Ghartey, member, Henry Nortey, member, and Philip Longdon, member.
HAG Chairman Ken Dzirasah’s response to the petition
This investigation contacted the outgoing President of HAG The Right Honourable Ken Dzirasah, a former first deputy speaker of the parliament of Ghana, for his response on whether the 5 executives were elected at the congress and whether they had voting rights at the congress.
Asked whether his executive co-opted members to serve on the board, he responded, “yes. after the elections the national executive committee met and in consonance with the constitution invited people on co-option to be part of the enlarged executive.
Asked if the co-opted executives have voting rights at the congress, Hon. Ken Dzirasah responded “yes, tell Kofi (Paul Kofi Yesu) to show you the constitution that is delegation to congress. The provision is that all national executive members (can vote). Co-opted members are also members of the national executive committee.”
Meanwhile, the Chair of the Elections Commission Jerry Ahmed, who is also a lawyer by profession, also says co-opted members have the right to vote in congress.
“Per their (HAG) own constitution, co-opted members do not have limited rights. So if they have no limited rights, then they have a right to vote. There was a meeting on the zoom platform between the CAHB President Handball Association of Africa that we can proceed to have them vote as co-opted members. You can find out from CAHB if they gave the go-ahead.”
Asked where it is stated in the constitution that co-opted executives have voting powers, Jerry stated, “I will send it to you.” However, he is yet to send the portion of the constitution to this reporter.
In a further comment, Hon Ken Dzirasah expressed his unhappiness at the protracted nature of the elective congress which has dragged on for years.
“I want to hand over peacefully. They have taken me all over the place. They are dragging me into the open and I don’t like that. I don’t know why they are doing this.”
Issue of coaching association: Ken Dzirasah denies speaking to Jerry Ahmed
In yet another petition, a group calling itself the Handball Coaches Association of Ghana (HACAG) also petitioned the Ghana Olympic on 19th July 2022 to expunge the names of people they deem as illegitimate from the list of delegates for the congress.
Signed by its President Anthony N.K.O Quaynor, HACAG claims the organisation was inaugurated and its executives were sworn into office on 19th November 2016 which was attended by top officials of the National Sports Authority and the HAG.
“We deem the names that have been published as an illegality and the process of selection as shady and malicious tantamount to marring the beauty and transparency of the Elective Congress, and should be rectified,” the statement said.
In a further interview with this reporter, Mr. Quaynor claimed that the current President of the HAG Ken Dzirasah provided an amount of GH500 seed money in 2016.
He stated Article 2c. on Admission to membership says, “In order to become a member of HAG, an applicant SHALL meet the criteria set in clauses 2..o and 2.1. *MAY*make formal application to HAG..”
“Mr. Erasmus we meet all the criteria and the constitution says we *MAY make an application and not SHALL make. If we are not recognised as an association, are the 2 people representing coaches an Association???
Am so grateful, even if we DON’T win this tussle. The Truth will be evident for the world to see. Am so honoured, may God bless you
This reporter followed up by asking Hon. Dzirasah what he knows about the formation of the Coaches Association.
“Tell him (Anthony Qaynor) to petition Jerry Ahmed because he is the one in charge of the election. The resolution was that the GOC should take direct responsibility for congress. They considered my national executive as a party against their group. This is a matter that has been dealt with severally,” Ken Dzirasah said.
In my checks at the Handball Association, I spoke to the Right Honourable Ken Dzirasah and he said they do not have an association of Coaches and that if they want to be part of the association they have to write to them. My checks with the President and Secretary General indicate that that group is not known to them.
Asked if this means that those on the delegates list as representatives of the Coaches Association are known to the HAG, Jerry said, “I don’t know. All that I am telling you is based on what I have been told by the HAG and the Handball Confederation of Africa. I do not know who is legitimate and who is not. My checks indicate they are not registered members of HAG.”
This reporter asked Hon. Dzirasah if he had had a conversation with the Chair of the Elections Commission on the issue of the Coaches Association, but he responded in the negative.
“Since this exercise started, I have not spoken to Jerry. It is the Secretary-General who has been liaising with Jerry.”
Given the complexities of the issues at stake, this reporter asked Jerry Ahmed if he thinks he has been fair to all parties in this case.
“I do not have an interest not to be fair. I do not have any interest in who wins. I do not know what anybody can give me. My interest is to serve the GOC and SG, and whatever will enable me to perform my role. I am not doing this alone. I have other members I fall on when the need arises. I called the EC to find out what to do if a member is dead. Voting by proxy will not be accepted. All the issues you have raised, I have asked them in meetings. At the end of the day, it is about ensuring the right thing is done.”
It becomes very clear that the HAG elective congress of 16th October 2016 elected an executive that included a Chairman, vice Chairman, and a Treasurer and the Secretary-General is an employee of the National Sports Authority.
Contrary to the provision which required the election of 6 other executives, no such elections occurred. However, the HAG co-opted 5 other members to undertake its task, which is backed by the constitution.
Critically, the appointments appeared to breach the constitution which requires 20% of such executives to be women. It is instructive that all 5 executives were men. Does this make the appointments null and void? This could be a matter of debate and deliberations at the congress.
The constitution, however, makes no distinction between elected executives and co-opted executives Article 4.1b which deals with the composition of AGMs, simply states “the AGM shall be composed of: i. All Executive Board Members…”
As it stands, the 5 co-opted members appear to have the same power to vote as the elected executives and other representatives of other member organisations.
This is a purely constitutional issue and nothing much can be done about it at this moment.
With my decades-long experience in sports administration in Ghana, it rather sounds odd that a co-opted member of a sports association has the same power as the Chairman, Vice Chair, Secretary General, and Treasurer.
What this also means is that a Chairman or President of this particular association can decide to stuff the executive with his cronies or yes men to sway elections in his or her favour because numbers do count in elections.
On the issue of the appearance of the name of a deceased member on the list of delegates, I find it most unfortunate that despite meetings on 31st May, June, and July, the elections commission could not simply remove the name of the late Dr. Jatong Baba from the list of candidates and as a delegate.
Also, per my understanding which is backed by the constitution, it is member associations that nominate representatives for congresses. Congress does not recognise individuals but rather members. Therefore, if the Central Region as a member association nominated two representatives for the election and one has subsequently died, it stands to reason that the Central Region should be given another opportunity to replace the deceased.
I find the argument by Jerry Ahmed Shaib that the region has to hold an election before nominating a new representative absurd. As I have stated earlier, this is a case of force majeure and there was enough time to rectify the situation.
There was enough time to clean up the register and make sure the right thing is done to ensure fairness to all parties.
The case of the Coaches Association is a very curious one. On the one hand, if the organisation led by Anthony Quaynor has not satisfied the criteria for admission as a member, then one equally has to ask how the two other ‘coaches association’ representatives got on the list in the first place? Something is not right because the last AGM of the HAG was held in 2016.
I believe the above issues have to be dealt with at congress before the elections are held.
In the end, the interest of the sport of handball and its players should be considered first and supreme.
May the best candidates win, and may they positively help shape the future of the sport.